New concerns over St. James’s Club closure

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The union representing the workers at St. James’s Club is expressing fresh concerns after receiving information that staff members were asked to take up duties as independent contractors.
On July 16, the all-inclusive hotel partially closed its property, laying off over 300 members of staff.
Industrial Relations Officer attached to the Antigua Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU), Kem Riley, said that in addition to the “lay-off,” the union is now concerned that the same employees who were laid off are being asked to sign independent contracts offering the same services from which they were laid off.
Only a minority of the laid off workers have signed independent contracts to offer their services during the hotel’s partial closure.
“The company said that they didn’t force employees to sign contracts, but we are not in agreement with what the company is doing. They highlighted that they had timeshares which required servicing and it’s the same employees who work in the housekeeping areas that were laid off, who would be required to service the timeshare properties, and those are the things that really worry the union,” Riley said.
The stated reason for the closure of the hotel was attributed to the invasion of the sargassum seaweed, however that situation has since subsided to a large extent and it is now being widely speculated that the real reason for the closure may be because of construction work ongoing at the hotel.
The hotel was initially scheduled to be closed from July 1 to September 30, and that date was later changed to July 15 to October 1, due to significant progress in clearing the weed.
“The union would have addressed the issue of the layoff and we understand that it was in regards to the sargassum seaweed, and it is our knowledge that that has subsided somewhat, and we had asked the company to reverse the layoff situation and bring back out the employees if things changed,” he said.
This has not happened and the Union said it will be engaging the Executive Director of Human Resources at St. James’s Club in discussions later this week to address its concerns.

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